Rugby Championship

Mass changes for All Blacks

2015-08-05 20:26
Nehe Milner-Skudder (Getty Images)

Wellington - Nehe Milner-Skudder will on Saturday become the ninth new All Black in four games after being included in mass changes in the backs for this weekend's Rugby Championship decider against Australia.

New Zealand and Australia go into the final-round clash as the only unbeaten sides in the tournament which also includes South Africa and Argentina.

The Bledisloe Cup, contested between the trans-Tasman rivals, is at stake as well.

Milner-Skudder, with All Blacks pedigree flowing through his veins, will start on the right wing as coach Steve Hansen continues to experiment with combinations before settling on his World Cup squad.

Only scrumhalf Aaron Smith and centre Conrad Smith survive from the backline that started in the 27-20 win over South Africa in the All Blacks last outing at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Hansen has made two further changes in the forwards and two on the bench in the team announced on Thursday.

"We will have to take a step up from our Ellis Park performance," Hansen said.

"This means we will need to bring physicality, intensity and accuracy to the occasion.

"I am picking this to be a brutal contest, and one we are looking forward to."

The call up for Milner-Skudder - a relative of former All Blacks Buff Milner and George Skudder - follows a standout year for the Wellington Hurricanes where he starred with his eye for the half-gap and broad sidestep.

He forms part of a potent back three with Julian Savea starting on the left wing for his first Test of 2015 and Ben Smith moving to fullback.

Sonny Bill Williams comes in at inside centre and Daniel Carter returns to the fly-half role.

In the run-on forward pack, Jerome Kaino starts at blindside flanker while Luke Romano returns at lock. Changes on the bench see Nepo Laulala as the tighthead prop replacement and Sam Cane will cover the loose forwards.

The All Blacks and Australia have played each other 152 times, with the All Blacks winning 104, the Wallabies 41 and with seven draws.

Carter, the world's leading Test points scorer, is nine points away from becoming the first player to reach 1 500 Test points.

The Test will be captain Richie McCaw's 141st international, equalling the current world record held by Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Of the 140 Tests McCaw has played so far, he has only tasted defeat 14 times.




New Zealand:

15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ben Franks , 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa

Read more on:    wallabies  |  all blacks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby


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